Mike Pompeo Just Gave the Iran Speech Kerry Should Have Given: Jonathan Schanzer, New York Post, May 21, 2018 — In his first major speech as secretary of state — a searing 20-minute stemwinder — Mike Pompeo on Monday laid out the new US strategy toward Iran, following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Donald Trump’s National Security Doctrine: Doron Feldman, BESA, May 11, 2018— President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran (the JCPOA)…
Trump and America’s Centripetal Foreign Policy: John Podhoretz, Commentary, May 8, 2018— Donald Trump’s remarkable announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Iran deal is an indication that the centripetal force of America’s consensus foreign policy dating back to 1980 is pulling Trump inexorably toward its center.
Trump’s International Art of the Deal: Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, Apr. 29, 2018 — It’s really not that complicated.
On Topic Links
Stopping Robert Mueller to Protect Us All: Mark Penn, The Hill, May 20, 2018
The Next Victim of Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Strategy: Iran’s Violent Regime: Austin Bay, Observer, May 17, 2018
Trump’s Foreign Policy: Jarring, Juvenile – and Possibly Effective: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Apr. 23, 2019
Truly Grand Strategy: Aaron Maclean, Weekly Standard, Apr. 7, 2018
MIKE POMPEO JUST GAVE THE IRAN SPEECH
KERRY SHOULD HAVE GIVEN
New York Post, May 21, 2018
In his first major speech as secretary of state — a searing 20-minute stemwinder — Mike Pompeo on Monday laid out the new US strategy toward Iran, following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement. Pompeo unveiled Washington’s plan to deploy intense economic warfare against the Islamic Republic until it halts a wide range of nuclear and non-nuclear activity. But the speech was more than just that; it was the one Pompeo’s predecessor, John Kerry, should have delivered in 2013.
Kerry, of course, was the nation’s top diplomat when America announced its interim deal with Iran that year. To reward the mullahs merely for coming to the table, he said the United States would pay hundreds of billions of dollars in blackmail to the Islamic Republic — the world’s most prolific state sponsor of terrorism — in exchange for a temporary and reversible halt to its nuclear activity. Fast forward two years, and Kerry bound America to a more permanent arrangement, offering more than $150 billion in blackmail, while recklessly agreeing to limits on Iran that would expire within a decade. Worse, Kerry failed to address issues like missiles, terrorism and other malign activity that Iran carries out to destabilize the Middle East. We were told it was the best deal we could get.
Pompeo on Monday put an end to all that. He declared that his goal was to return to “the global consensus” before the deal. No longer will the United States tolerate Iran’s rogue behavior, which he detailed. This includes Iran’s quest for the bomb, but also the support Iran has been providing to terrorist groups in Yemen (the Houthis), Syria and Iraq (Shi’ite militias and Hezbollah) and the Gaza Strip (Hamas). Pompeo vowed to “crush” these proxies and declared that Iran would never get a nuclear bomb. “Not now, not ever.” The new secretary announced that the US Treasury would unleash “the strongest sanctions in history,” unless the regime in Tehran yields. If it doesn’t, Pompeo warned, the regime will “be battling to keep its economy alive.” Good for him. Fact is, this is the only kind of language — and policy —that could get Iran to change course.
In short, the objective is what it should’ve been in 2013 —to put Iran’s leaders to a fundamental choice: Face a withering campaign of sanctions, led by the United States and increasingly adopted by its allies, or engage in constructive diplomacy that ultimately puts the Islamic Republic on a path toward peaceful coexistence with the United States, the broader Middle East and the rest of the world. And this is not based on a vague notion of peace. Pompeo delineated a dozen areas where the Iranians need to fall in line. In exchange, he said, the Trump administration would agree to the “re-establishment of full diplomatic and commercial relations.”
Critics will rightly point out that the Iranians, reeling from Trump’s decision, are not likely to rush to the negotiating table. To save face, they need to find some negotiating leverage. And that leverage traditionally comes from malign activities, such as nuclear advances, missile tests or destabilizing the Middle East. But the Iranians are now racing against the clock. Their currency, the rial, has been in a free-fall since the president announced his withdrawal from the deal. Inflation is through the roof. True, the Iranian economy was already tanking, thanks to mismanagement by the regime, and this has sparked public protests in recent months. But Trump’s sanctions have accelerated the decline, and it’s now safe to say that whatever economic improvement the 2015 nuclear deal may have yielded has effectively vanished. In this way, even before sanctions are fully implemented, the new policy is already making an impact.
Critics also point out that we can’t do this alone. The Europeans, in particular, are still stinging from Trump’s withdrawal from the deal. The Chinese and Russians are also not pleased, given the time and effort they invested in it. All are now considering plans to work around US restrictions on trade with Iran. And Pompeo offered little to indicate that they will acquiesce. But never underestimate the fear that can be sown by American sanctions. Ours is still the most important economy in the world. And as long as it is, the United States is right to use that as leverage to get a meaningful deal with Iran. Pompeo made it clear that this is America’s strategy. It’s the strategy we always should have pursued.
DONALD TRUMP’S NATIONAL SECURITY DOCTRINE
BESA, May 11, 2018
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran (the JCPOA), and to renew harsh economic sanctions in order to force Tehran to accept significant changes to the deal, exemplifies Trump’s inclination to carve out new patterns of diplomatic achievement. His ability to do this has been facilitated by the stabilization of his administration in the domestic arena.
In an albeit unique way, Trump and his administration operate in a rational, orderly, and calculated manner, notwithstanding the stigma that has adhered to them because of the president’s extrovert nature and unorthodox language. The “Trump Doctrine” consists of commitments to preserve American interests, keep election promises to the voters, and implement policy.
According to this doctrine, America should, wherever possible, avoid direct long-term commitment of troops to conflicts abroad while at the same time maintaining the military capabilities for rapid intervention if required. These forces serve primarily to deter. Should they need to intervene, the object is to achieve a quick result through a concentration of forces and the use of innovative fighting technologies – and then to cut off contact as soon as possible and return to the rear bases.
In this way, the administration is succeeding in bringing the American giant back to the forefront of the international arena (particularly in Asia and the Middle East) after the retreat that occurred under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump is accomplishing this without entering into unreasonable commitments, and without forcing American taxpayers to pay huge sums to finance the ongoing expenses of the American Expeditionary Force.
The foreign policy of the eight-year Obama administration was and remains highly controversial. Having stirred worldwide euphoria upon his first election (he even received the Nobel Peace Prize before being able to do anything), Obama left his successor a disastrous international legacy. He miserably failed to deal with the “Arab Spring,” made critical mistakes vis-à-vis the region’s numerous conflicts (notably the Syrian civil war), and undermined the balance of power among the superpowers (China, Russia and the US). This led, on the one hand, to Beijing’s first military engagement in the Middle East, and on the other, to renewed Russian engagement – for the first time since the Cold War – in both the Middle East and other regions of the world (Eastern Europe, Antarctica, North Africa). The Obama administration cut the budget of the US Army and the NASA program, inhibiting technological and scientific development.
All told, Obama’s policies damaged the American image both internally and externally. In addition, the administration allowed nuclear threshold states, such as North Korea and Iran, to become militarily powerful, to threaten their neighbors, and to tread the nuclear path. This was all undertaken by Obama at the expense of Washington’s closest allies (Japan, South Korea, Israel, and Saudi Arabia), which were perceived by the administration as obstacles rather than assets. At home, Obama ramped up a socialist tone with regard to the economy and society, leaving deep rifts in the culture and contributing to a decline in citizens’ economic position.
American foreign policy and its ability to influence world powers, regional powers, and regional actors depends, first and foremost, on the ability of the administration to function internally. More than a year into Trump’s term, the relationship between the president and the US Senate appears to have normalized. Trump has support, if limited, among conservative circles in the Democratic Party as well as traditional Republican elites that were hostile to him after the election. This has enabled him to secure the necessary majority to get his tax reform agenda through the Senate, to make progress on the new immigration law, to overcome budget crises, and to stand firm in the face of domestic tensions. When the Trump administration came out with the upper hand on these issues, it was credited with achievements in domestic policy. This in turn strengthened its international standing, enabling it to begin to act more decisively in that arena…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
TRUMP AND AMERICA’S CENTRIPETAL FOREIGN POLICY John Podhoretz Commentary, May 8, 2018
Donald Trump’s remarkable announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Iran deal is an indication that the centripetal force of America’s consensus foreign policy dating back to 1980 is pulling Trump inexorably toward its center. That is not the place Trump wanted to be when he ran his campaign. He certainly seemed to want to pursue a far more isolationist path, which is exactly the path that the post-war foreign policy of the United States rejected. But here we are, and here are the elements of Trump’s foreign policy that demonstrate continuity with the past consensus:
Sanctions against Russia for its behavior in Ukraine; Permitting arms sales to Ukraine; Some level of friendship toward Israel; Hostility toward Cuba’s totalitarian regime; Fighting Islamist terrorism—on the ground in Syria, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan; Finding points of commonality with Arab regimes that are not explicitly anti-American; Viewing Iran as a serious antagonist.
With some exceptions (like the elder Bush’s administration in relation to Israel), every element on this list (if in some cases you substitute the Soviet Union for Russia pre-1991 and Libya for Islamist terror) was to some degree at play in American foreign policy from 1981 until 2008. Such has been the powerful logical flow of American foreign policy since the election of Ronald Reagan. This consensus ebbed and flowed depending on the circumstance, of course, and the parallels are not perfect. What Trump has done, and I don’t think strategically or with any grand design, is to place far greater stock in both the unilateralist and the realpolitik aspects of American foreign policy than his predecessors in the Reagan and post-Reagan era. He views enduring alliances more as constraints than grand benefits, which is perhaps the primary way in which he differs from the consensus. But his attacks on those alliances have basically ceased, which is itself a striking change from candidate Trump’s approach.
And what of 2008 to 2016? Barack Obama, schooled in 1970s liberal foreign-policy shibboleths, came at this consensus and flipped it—not entirely on its head, more like about 140 degrees. We went at Israel, we went light on Russia, we sought a concord with Iran, and Obama was celebrated for his acceptance of the monsters of Havana. Most notably, he accepted the left-liberal critique of postwar American foreign policy’s supposedly bad actions in the world and sought to apologize or make implicit amends for them. Viewed in this light, it’s the Obama years that represent the jarring discontinuity from the consensus path and not the election of the X-factor Trump.
We’ll have to see how this North Korea business goes to better understand Trump. (And certainly Trump’s trade practices mark him as very different, though there’s an argument that’s more an economic than a foreign policy.) There’s no reason to believe any of this is conscious or deliberate or designed. There is no Trump Doctrine. But there might be one yet, and it might be more familiar than we had any right to expect.
TRUMP’S INTERNATIONAL ART OF THE DEAL
Sultan Knish, Apr. 29, 2018
It’s really not that complicated. But President Trump’s Syria strikes have reopened the debate over what defines his foreign policy. Is he an interventionist or an isolationist? Foreign policy experts claim that he’s making it up as he goes along. But they’re not paying attention.
President Trump’s foreign policy has two consistent elements. From threatening Kim Jong-Un on Twitter to moving the embassy to Jerusalem to bombing Syria, he applies pressure and then he disengages. Here’s how that works.
First, Trump pressures the most intransigent and hostile side in the conflict. Second, he divests the United States from the conflict leaving the relevant parties to find a way to work it out. North Korea had spent decades using its nuclear program to bully its neighbors and the United States. Previous administrations had given the Communist dictatorship $1.3 billion in aid to keep it from developing its nuclear program. These bribes failed because they incentivized the nuclear program.
Nukes are the only thing keeping North Korea from being just another failed Communist dictatorship. Instead, Trump called North Korea’s bluff. He ignored all the diplomatic advice and ridiculed its regime. He made it clear that the United States was not afraid of North Korean nukes. The experts shrieked. They warned that Kim Jong-Un wouldn’t take this Twitter abuse and we would be in for a nuclear war.
But the Norks folded. The Communist regime held high level talks with the United States and South Korea. It’s reportedly planning to announce an official end to the war. That probably won’t amount to much in the long term, but it shifts more of the responsibility for the conflict away from the United States and to the Koreas.
Trump accomplished more with a few tweets than previous administrations had with billions of dollars. An instinctive negotiator, Trump’s realpolitik genius lay not in ideology, but in grasping the core negotiating strategy of the enemy and then negating it by taking away its reason not to make a deal. When Trump called North Korea’s bluff, its nuclear weapons program was transformed from an asset that it used to blackmail aid from its potential targets into a liability that could end with its destruction.
Trump did the same thing with Jerusalem. The PLO had refused to make a deal with Israel because its constant refusals to negotiate allowed it to keep escalating its demands. The more it sabotaged negotiations, the better the offers became. The PLO’s Palestinian Authority didn’t have nukes, but its weapon of choice was terrorism. And it had played the same game as North Korea for decades. It would begin negotiations, demand payoffs, then sabotage negotiations, threaten violence, and demand an even higher payoff for ending the violence. The PLO/PA knew that it could get the best possible deal by not making a deal.
Just like North Korea, Trump cut the PLO down to size by negating its negotiating strategy. Instead of the deal getting better and better, Trump showed that it would get worse by taking Jerusalem off the table. Previous administrations had rewarded the PLO/PA for its refusal to make a deal by sweetening the pot. Instead Trump threatened to take away Jerusalem, the biggest prize in the pot. And then he warned that the PLO would lose even more of its demands if the terrorist group continued to refuse to make a deal.
Unlike Clinton, Bush and Obama, Trump did not overcompensate for the US-Israel relationship by pressuring the Jewish State to make a deal with the PLO so as to seem like an “honest broker”. Instead he leveraged that relationship to move the United States away from the conflict.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem sends the signal that the US-Israel relationship doesn’t depend on a deal with the PLO. That’s the opposite of the messages that Clinton, Bush and Obama had sent. Their old failed diplomacy that made the US-Israel relationship dependent on a deal with the PLO had given the terrorists control over our foreign policy. The US and Israel were perversely forced into appeasing the terrorists of the PLO just to be able to maintain a relationship with each other. Trump kicked the PLO out of the driver’s seat. And the terrorist group is becoming isolated.
Saudi Arabia and its allies are much more focused on Iran than the old proxy war against Israel. And, for the moment, that leaves the PLO with few allies. If it doesn’t make a deal, then the United States will rebuild its relationship with Israel around regional security issues. And the Saudis have signaled that they are willing to do the same thing. Then everyone else exits the conflict except Israel and the PLO. Trump left it to the South Koreans to decide the conflict with North Korea. Ditto for Israel.
The United States will put forward proposals, but the long game is to get America out these conflicts. And Trump does that by turning the United States from an eager mediator to a bully with a big stick. He made it clear to Kim Jong-Un that he would have a much easier time negotiating with South Korea than with America. And he’s made it equally clear to the PLO that it’s better off turning to Israel than to its allies in the State Department. The message is, “You don’t want to get the United States involved.”
Previous administrations believed that the United States had an integral role in resolving every conflict. President Trump’s America First policy seeks to limit our involvement in foreign conflicts without robbing us of our influence by making those interventions as decisive and abrasive as possible. It breaks every rule of contemporary diplomacy. But it has plenty of historical precedents. And it works…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
Stopping Robert Mueller to Protect Us All: Mark Penn, The Hill, May 20, 2018—The “deep state” is in a deep state of desperation. With little time left before the Justice Department inspector general’s report becomes public, and with special counsel Robert Mueller having failed to bring down Donald Trump after a year of trying, they know a reckoning is coming.
The Next Victim of Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Strategy: Iran’s Violent Regime: Austin Bay, Observer, May 17, 2018—Indignant media elites and European toffs continue to scorn President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name of the “Iran nuclear deal,” but they are once again missing the big news: The Trump administration has launched another “maximum pressure” foreign policy operation, this time targeting the heinous religious dictators and Al Quds terrorists commanding the Iranian regime.
Trump’s Foreign Policy: Jarring, Juvenile – and Possibly Effective: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Apr. 23, 2019—It may be difficult to assume that any rational thought lies behind Donald Trump’s foreign-policy impulses, but consider the following…
Truly Grand Strategy: Aaron Maclean, Weekly Standard, Apr. 7, 2018—Until the late 1990s, John Lewis Gaddis enjoyed a reputation among his fellow historians for careful—even exquisitely careful—evenhandedness.